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Novel x-rayoptics technologies for ESA x-ray astrophysics missions

Novel technologies for preparation optical modules

Project duration: 2007 to 2011

Project manager: Ladislav Pína

The main objective of the project was to modify the technology for the preparation of special optical modules (type Multi Foil Optics) for ESA X-ray astrophysics missions. The company proposed and verified innovative technologies for preparation of optical modules with silicon substrates.

Mechanical properties of standard silicon wafers supplied by semiconductor industry (ON Semiconductor) were also studied in frame of this project.

In addition, the surface quality of standard silicon wafers was studied, in particular flatness and roughness of surface, because these parameters are extremely critical for use of Si wafers as substrates for X-ray optics. Standard Si wafer is round, but for considered application it was necessary to prepare square substrates (Si chips). Cutting technology of Si wafers was of the key importance for the whole project, because Si chips should have no defects. Suitable cutting technology enabling preparation of chips with minimal marginal defects and maintaining low surface micro-roughness was found and experimentally verified.

Theoretical studies and practical experiments have shown that the technology used for laboratory modules still don’t have sufficient accuracy and therefore it was necessary to modify the existing technology. Several optical modules with duralumin (aluminum alloy) skeleton were assembled and some modules were tested in the X-ray vacuum chamber. For example, elliptical modules with point to point focusing, focal length 16 m and geometric arrangement of the type of Kirkpatrick-Baez (KB). First, each module was separately tested and on the basis of these results a system containing two crossed modules was assembled. Following good results of the optical tests one module was subjected to vibration tests (the conditions corresponding to a rocket launch). Tests confirmed that the developed innovative technology for module assembling enables its use for space experiments.

Rigaku Innovative Technologies Europe (RITE)

The company was established in May 2008 and it is the third R&D affiliated branch of the home company Rigaku Corporation in Tokyo. RITE provides communication with the European market and supports Japanese and American branches of the company.

RITE offers comprehensive services in the field of X-ray radiation – R&D, proposal, design and manufacture of precision X-ray and EUV optics and EUV and X-ray detectors for industrial and scientific applications.

Key employees of the company have rich and long-term experience in the field of X-ray technologies. They developed many new and innovative methods for preparation of X-ray Optics (e.g. Multi Foil and replicated Optics, or Soller Slits) and imaging detectors of X-ray radiation.

What would you name as main benefits of the project to you and your company?

“This project allowed us to obtain a series of very important and valuable experience, partly in terms of management and coordination. During the project we had the opportunity to modify the existing technologies and experimentally verify proposed innovative approach to development of new X-ray optical modules. Obtained results of the project clearly demonstrated our competitiveness compared with work done by our colleagues in Japan and USA.“